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The Second Sunday of Advent – December 10

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Do you ever stress about the Christmas holidays? Do you feel so much pressure that you miss the joy? You are in good company, if you do. Sur- veys tell of people feeling stressed getting out the Christmas cards, shopping crowded stores, paying credit card bills, wrapping presents, arguing with family, and wanting to have the perfect Christmas. Too much spent and too much eaten! Gifts to be returned, and work to return to! And for many there are the Post-Christmas Blues.

For me, one particular Christmas was especially difficult, coming in a dark season of grief. The holidays became the hollow days. Christmas music that I once loved made me sadder. Lonelier. I could hardly wait for Christmas lights and decorations to be taken down and put away.

But as eyes dilate in the darkness, opening wide to take in light, so my own personal darkness opened my eyes wider to see the light of Jesus. Al- though I had long been a Christian, Christmas had not been so much about the reality of Jesus with us as about its wonderful music, bright lights, and gift giving. But there was something about that time of darkness that finally opened my eyes to the presence of Jesus who is always with us. I leaned hard on the “child born for us, the son given to us” and trusted that He really is “Emmanuel”, “God is with us”.

As roots go deep in life’s storms, so my roots went deeper into Jesus. I began to see, as Isaiah had seen, what the Child born for us brings: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). He is the Jesus Light bearing the names, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlast- ing Father, Prince of Peace.”

Messiah Jesus’ title of “Wonderful Counselor” must have consoled Isaiah in his deep darkness. The adjective “Wonderful” (Hebrew: pele) describes Messiah as one who “startles” and “astonishes” in His counsel. As counselor, He takes your breath away.

Elsewhere, Messiah Jesus is revealed to Isaiah as “wonderful [pele] in counsel, and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29). Isaiah foresees Jesus as living and ministering to people in “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might” (Isaiah 11:2). What Isaiah could see in dim outline, people from Jesus’ hometown saw in living color: “Many who heard Jesus were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary?’” (Mark 6:2-3). Throughout history, those who look to Jesus find in Him “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). He is surely “the power and wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

In the dark days of Hitler and the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer found in Jesus the power and wisdom of God:

“Yet because this child is God’s own Wonder-Counselor, he himself is also a source of all wonders and all counsel…Go to the child in the manger, believe him to be the Son of God, and you will find in him wonders beyond wonder, counsel beyond counsel.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night)

I write this Advent devotional because of my one dark Advent! It was through the darkness of those days and nights that the light of Jesus shone so brightly for me. Jesus became for me “Wonderful Counselor” who wisely guides and directs my life. Today, Jesus still “startles” and “astonishes” me, and I want to tell you about Him. He is, after all, the child “born for US, a son given to US” – the Jesus Light!


O God, immortal, eternal, invisible, we thank You for the gifts you lavish on us every day; some known, and some yet unknown. Thank You for the won- drous gift of life, and every breath we draw. Thank You for the gifts of family and friends, and for the Body of Christ on earth and in heaven. Thank you for treasured memories and our hope for tomorrow. Most of all, we thank You for Your Son who delivers us from darkness. You startle and astonish! We ask for yet one more gift this Christmas: thankful hearts! In our Savior’s name we pray. Amen.

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